Posted by: bkivey | 22 September 2016

2016 Vacation Pt. 2

The plan today was to see Niagara Falls in the morning, then find something interesting to do in the afternoon. I have goals for vacation and may generally plan what I want to do, but outside of major goals I’m not wedded to an itinerary. It’s travel. Flexibility is helpful. The strategic goal this year is to see the Great Lakes: anything else is almost gravy. Slept a bit later than I would have liked, but 1) I’m on vacation, and 2) I’m on vacation. It usually takes about three days of vacation to make the switch from goal-orientation to enjoying the journey.

One of the joys of going places not Portland is driving in traffic not stopped. The only complication in the 20+ mile journey from Buffalo to Niagara Falls was dealing with my not-always-great phone GPS. My oldest sister isn’t a fan, but I’m too lazy to get a better one (How hard can it be?! Just download it!) The GPS is just good enough enough of the time to keep me mollified.

Along the way you pass the intake houses for the American side Falls power stations:


Because there aren’t any indicators that this is, in fact, an intake station; like big sucking pipes, I’ll have to take the New York Power Authorities word for it. I’d love to know what’s inside.

A bit further up the road:


This is in the town of Niagara Falls. There’s metered street parking adjacent, or there would be if the meters worked. The town of Niagara Falls uses computerized meters, and on the day me and another gentlemen watched the computer spin without result. We decided to park without paying. Scofflaws we are.

It was a pretty good hike across the bridge to the Falls. Along the way there are rest stops at the rapids above the Falls.

This is where the water falls, well, off a cliff.


The top of the American Falls.


That’s an observation tower in the middle. I was surprised that the Falls weren’t louder than they are. The rapids make more noise than than the falls themselves. I’m literally half deaf, but I’d thought metric tons of water falling nearly 200′ would be louder than it is.  Given the scale, the Falls are actually pretty quiet.

Views of the Falls.



I’ve been told by people who know that the view from the Canadian side is better, and if you look at the geometry, this appears to be true. I travel with my passport, but I didn’t bring it this day, so was confined to the American side. Niagara Falls is impressive. Also impressive is the view from the bottom of the falls. I elected not to do this, but others did:


As I told one person, if I wanted to get wet, I’d wait a few weeks at home for the rain. You can buy a package deal to tour the base of the Falls, take the Maid of the Mist tour, and do a few other things for I believe $45. It’s actually a good deal. Not so good a deal is the price of admission to the observation tower: the operators want nearly $20 to observe the falls. No thank you.

The area around the Falls has been made into a park, and it’s a nice place to spend time. There are a number of memorials, mostly dedicated to war dead.


The gazebo is surrounded by monuments, including a memorial to a Welsh hymn singing contest. The plaque is made of Welsh slate:


In the US Niagara Falls was once the honeymoon destination on the East Coast, and there’s still some evidence of that. For me, it was Tuesday.

Back to Buffalo, and looking for something to round out the last day in town. I found it.






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